Rabbits Eat Lettuce 2018: A Veteran Doofer’s Critique

2018 marked the 11th birthday of Rabbits Eat Lettuce, and let me tell you, this festival did not disappoint (much).

This year, as has been the case in previous years, there were 3 main stages (Lotus, Waabooz and Hey Sunshine), each with pumping dance floors, captivating decor and dusty crowds decked out from head to toe in glorious SSM-loving rainbow.

Our Rabbits experience began after what was arguably one of the longest car lines to get into the campground that I’ve experienced for a festival. After hours of patiently waiting, we set up at sunset Friday and made our way first to Waabooz (unfortunately missing the opening ceremony). Located in the middle of the main festival area, the Waabooz stage largely featured bass acts, both local and international, and right from the get-go on Friday night it was charging!

Friday night highlights included Grouch in Dub’s Live Band (many attending fans mentioned how keen they were to hear his new Grouch in Dub album when it’s released). Mr Carmack, one of the headliners all the way from the UK, helped pick the pace up and introduced some dirty bass into the mix, a fantastic set all round. Following this, Oski, a Sydney local, took to the stage and played a set that took no prisoners as it journeyed through some truly filthy and danceable tunes. After this, tired from a long day, we went back to campsite to crash.

As we wandered back, we stumbled across some 3D projections on the domed “Burrow” workshop space.  These were absolutely incredible – particularly in the way they played up on the geometry of the dome to add a new and interesting level of aesthetic delight to an already glorious piece of art.

It was on this walk that I also noticed the showers required a $2 coin for operation (not that unreasonable we thought).  However when I went to go get some change by purchasing a drink at a stall, I was informed a cashless system was in place and subsequently directed to a booth putting cash onto the armbands for vendors to scan. This whole business, while great for people with pocketless costumes, felt a bit like Disney cash (though you could get a refund at the end, it was said). Organisers clearly hadn’t factored showers into this brilliant system, and I was disappointed to discover that after several minutes negotiating with a stall holder for change for a fiver, I was rewarded with a shower that shut off after approximately a minute and a half at best. This was a disappointing oversight and I, like many others, gave up on the idea of haggling for coinage all weekend, instead opting to let my stink flag fly.

Alas, I digress.

On Saturday morning we embarked with childlike glee on our first food stall reconnaissance mission. While there was a decent variety of vendors, sadly nothing stood out. The markets, however, offered up a plethora of clothing options, which made for some amazing looking characters getting glammed and glittered up.

Kicking off Saturday afternoon, the Lotus stage finally opened with Squintsy Tones, followed by a wobbly and groovy set by Cheshire. After Cheshire, Mid-North coast local Farfetchd took to the stage, playing an absolutely banging set from start to finish, with the crowd going off. It became obvious during Farfetchd’s set that the LED visuals screen, featuring a honeycomb design, was of incredible quality perfectly utilised by his VR. This was followed by some funky sets set by Slynk and the Wonky Queenslander’s Jamie Forest.

The Wonky Queenslander crew had their own renegade stage set up at the edge of the campgrounds and it was pumping from Friday through to Monday, always grooving and moving between steady beat and bass music. My highlights from the Wonky tent were Brisbane-based AVAXA on Friday night, who played a grooving house set that finished off with her rocking out on a keytar, and Pool-eo Sunday daytime, an upcoming DJ based in Melbourne who played a wicked Glitch Hop/Mid-Tempo set.

After popping through the Waabooz stage for a bit of a boogie to BigFoot and Grouch’s progressive psy sets, and returning to the campsite for a bit, we headed back to the Lotus stage to catch Spoonbill, for a bouncy and funky set that reminded my why Spoonbill is one of the most innovative bass music artists in the world, and how lucky Australia is to have such a strong community in this regard (whereas in Europe their obsession for 4×4 means that few outside the UK have heard of Glitch-Hop and the like). Following the impressive Beatbox Australia Showcase was AN_TEN_NAE featuring some amazing aerials performances. AN_TEN_NAE’s set gave me much appreciated hit of some Grime vibes, a guilty pleasure of mine.

After that heavy bass hit, we headed back over to the Waabooz stage to catch the mind bending psytrance of Pspiralife. Not quite proggy not quite full on, Pspiralife always surprises me with the intricacy of the rhythms in their music. After a bit of a stomp, we were back at the Lotus stage to catch ShockOne. ShockOne, hailing originally from Perth but in recent years based in London, tore up the dance floor with his mix of heavy mid-tempo bass and D’n’B tunes, which really emphasised the high quality Nexo speakers at the Lotus stage. There were 14 Nexos provided and set up by Twisted Pair Productions who continuously prove themselves to be one of the best sound crews in the NNSW/SEQ region. The significant difference in quality between the Lotus stage and the Waabooz stage was a topic of tension for some, who saw some of the big international acts being put on the Waabooz stage rather than Lotus as a wasted opportunity.

Later in the night, early Sunday morning, Ritmo kicked off a solid session with a great full-on psytrance set leading through until the next day. I unfortunately had to hit the hay, but I returned Sunday morning for Purple Hayes ripping it up with some solid NNSW psytrance leading intoCaptain Hook’s bouncy set, where his unique blend of psytrance and techno set the stage for Louie Cut to transition into some steady, bouncy techno/house beats for the afternoon.

On Sunday evening, after a phenomenal set by Whitebear on the Waabooz stage, we once again drifted over to the Lotus stage, this time for the Bassic Records showcase, which provided a tasty selection of techno/house acts for the night. The standout from the showcase was Willaris K, hailing from mid-north coast, who played a deep and driving steady-beat set, leading into fellow local Rogibear’s set. Due to clashes, we headed back over to the Waabooz stage to catch Truth. Truth’s set was complex, creative and utterly unique, a highlight of the festival for me and many others I spoke to on the dance floor, however they would have benefitted from being on the mainstage Nexos. Following this, Doctor Werewolf played a killer D’n’B set that was one of my other highlights, a fantastic combo between the two of them.

After packing up the campsite Monday morning to return home, we enjoyed a fantastic boogie in the sun to DinoBitch, which was easily one of the most fun sets of the festival.

The decor throughout the festival was pleasing, the layout was good and there were thoughtful little tucked away additions like a chill tent and a half-pipe for skateboarding. One thing that stood out was the amount of rubbish around the dance floors, which nearly always says more about the attendees than the organisers, but perhaps in the future more could be done to encourage a more environmentally friendly attitudes among patrons.

Overall, I really enjoyed Rabbits Eat Lettuce and would go back, despite small issues with showers and litter and the larger issue of sound quality discrepancies between the stages. What matters most to me are the artists and the vibe, and in my humble opinion they killed it on both of those fronts.

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